by Liz Borkowski
Since November of 2006, all cigarette packages and advertising in Chile have been required to devote half of their space to hard-hitting anti-tobacco messages. In addition to a âThese cigarettes are killing youâ warning, this includes a haunting photo of Miguel GarcÃa MartÃn, a 72-year-old Chilean who lost his larynx to cancer after smoking for 20 years:
Don Miguel, Chilean, smoked for 20 years. He lost his larynx to cancer.
Caution! These cigarettes are killing you. Ministry of Health, Government of
The smoke of each cigarette you smoke contains, along with other toxic products:
Tar, which causes cancer; nicotine, which makes you addicted; carbon monoxide, a toxic gas like that from tailpipes; arsenic, chemical used as rat poison.
In an interview by Marcelo Simonetti of Caras magazine, GarcÃa explained the thinking behind the campaign (translation errors are mine):
They wanted to base the campaign on a person who was common and current. Someone who rides the bus, takes the Metro, who you can see shopping in the supermarket. Someone who also would be capable of answering some questions. â¦There is a very clear target in the initative, to reduce the smoking rate in the population. Itâs certain that theyâve set the objective by 2010 to reduce from 40 to 30 percent smoking in the general population and from 45 to 40 in women of childbearing age. But the big part ofthe effort is focused in the schools. In this case, the target is to reduce the smoking rate from 27 to 20 percent. A study by CONACE (Consejo Nacional para el Control de Estupefacientes, or National Council for the Control of Drugs) determined that students smoke three times more than in the US and 30 percent more than the Spaniards.
GarcÃa has dedicated himself to educating people, especially children, about the dangers of smoking. He gives free presentations at schools, speaking through a special amplifier that rests against his throat and renders his speech in a metallic tone.
In Chile, the percentage of all deaths attributed to tobacco was 17.43% in 2004, up from 15.95% in 1994.